Benue workers celebrate Christmas without salaries

Gabriel Suswam and his wife during the election in 2011

Some government employees in Benue State said they were celebrating Christmas in high spirit in spite the state government’s failure to pay their salaries.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workers, who were being owed four months’ salaries, appeared to have shunned all grievances against the state government.

NAN also reports that the workers, however, accused the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, of trading their welfare for political reasons and other benefits.

“Comrade Simon Anchaver‘s leadership of the state NLC has shown clearly that it is not capable of fighting for workers’ welfare,” a teacher in Gboko Local Government Area said.

“First, Anchaver used NLC chairmanship position and the workers welfare to bargain for his 2015 governorship ambition which he eventually lost to Prince Terhemen Tarzoor.

“He contested election without resigning his appointment with the state Ministry of Agriculture because of his closeness to the governor.

“He does not have the interest of the workers at heart; all he does is look for ways of enriching himself and build his political career,” the teacher was quoted as saying.

The teacher, who pleaded anonymity, criticised the NLC leadership in the state for failing to support them at the expense of their personal ambitions, NAN reported.

“NLC in Benue has become a political party where only party issues are being discussed instead of the welfare of members.

“Can you imagine that the NLC chairman, on December 24 at about 4:00 pm, ordered all workers to embark on a three-day warning strike should the government fail to pay salaries?

“Anchaver declared strike when he knew very well that the Federal Government had declared December 25 and 26 as public holidays to mark the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

“We are tired of the situation and want the national body of the NLC to wade into the matter to enable us to get our monthly salaries.”

He also appealed to the national leadership to urge President Goodluck Jonathan to call Governor Gabriel Suswam to order.

Another teacher from Makurdi Local Government, who for fear of reprisal also preferred anonymity, berated the leadership of the NLC in Benue for failing to fight for workers’ rights.

She said that the NLC’s leadership had chosen to involve itself in politics thereby abandoning its primary responsibility of fighting for workers’ welfare.

Efforts to contact Comrade Anchaver proved abortive.

Benue State governor, Mr. Suswam, and 20 other Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governors donated N50 million each to the party last week.

At least a dozen of those governors made the donation despite owing their workers salaries and allowances for months. (NAN)

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